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Prudential Financial, Inc. - Analyst/Investor Day

Stocks in this article: PRU

The first major visible step in the evolution, of course, came 10 years ago, and again, this is an interesting year because this is the 10th year anniversary for the acquisition of Kyoei, now known as Gibraltar. Now on the surface, you could scarcely find a more different organization. Indeed, Kyoei was everything POJ prided itself on not being. It was a classic middle-market, traditional Japanese domestic sales organization, with one big problem: it was bankrupt. So when we acquired it, it would seem that there was no way to leverage what we had in terms of strategic principles or anything else. But what was recognized from the beginning was the opportunity to make this meaningfully different and better and to leverage the skills inside POJ. Now they already had one thing that was meaningfully different, and that was the Teachers Association, which at the time represented about half the business. It was a unique and exclusive right to have access on campus to roughly 1 million schoolteachers. But clearly, the bankruptcy indicated that, that had not been fully leveraged, and so the challenge was how do we make this better? So some of the same competencies, the strategic principles around quality people, which is the foundation, were brought over. In fact, the leadership came from POJ. So the first challenge was, how do you take 7,000 people in this bankrupt company, not try to make them clones of Life Planners, but to instill them with that same kind of focus around death protection and the skills and the competencies needed to have a value proposition, not based on a low price or a high crediting rate, but with the focus, rather, around the quality of the advice and the service and a competitive offering. And indeed, they did that. That's a slow and difficult task. It took several years. And in spite of a lot of recruiting, that 7,000-person sales force shrank over the next couple of years to about 4,500, and it slowly grew its way back to a little over 6,000 just prior to the recent acquisition. So even though it never grew back to the size of the sales force it had been, even over 10 years, its productivity, not to mention its profitability, grew enormously. An extremely successful organization by any measure. Now if you then look further, as recently as last year, that organization within 10 years went from a position of being bankrupt to the position where it could acquire 2 more companies, very similar to what they had been before, very similar to what Kyoei was. And interestingly and coincidentally, they had about 7,000 salespeople. So that company today is going through that same transformation process that was done with Kyoei. We have the confidence that we can do that. Part of it goes back to people and leadership. The leader of that whom you will hear from is Sato-san. Sato-san was one of the executives from Kyoei who partnered with the leaders who came from POJ to bring about that transformation in the sales organization. He then led the merger over the last year and became the President of the new organization, the new, as we call it, Big Gibraltar. So he has experienced from all ends that kind of transformation. So the focus there has been on taking the same strategic fundamentals of focusing on building the quality, delivering the quality service in such a way that, that value proposition to the customers, one that can demand that kind of pricing and, in turn, when combined with the productivity, delivers the profitability that today characterizes that organization.

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